“THE OTHER GIRLS DIED. I SURVIVED.” 16TH ST. CHURCH BOMBING SURVIVOR SPEAKS
It’s been over 50 years since four little black girls were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.
Former Ku Klux Klansman convicted of planting the bomb, Thomas Blanton Jr. will remain behind bars, after his parole was denied Wednesday in Montgomery.
But there was a fifth little girl in the church basement on the morning of September 15, 1963 who lived to tell about the tragedy.
The explosion from that bomb killed Sarah Collins Rudolph’s sister Addie Mae Collins and her friends Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and and Cynthia Wesley. Collins-Rudolph lived, but is scarred emotionally and physically.
“When the bomb went off, the glass from the window, it went into my eyes and face and i lost sight in my left eye and they had to operate on it and remove it. now i wear a prosthetic eye,” Collins-Rudolph said as she remembered that day.
Although nothing can ever bring back the lives taken, Collins- Rudolph tells WVUA 23 she nor the victims families have ever received any form of compensation for their losses.
“People don’t know, we never even did get restitution for the death or anything or for my injury. I think maybe if they come up with something. that will make us feel a little better.”
Due to the condition of the cemetery, in 1998 Collins family requested that Addie Mae’s body be moved to another location. During the exhumation process, it was discovered that the remains thought to be Addie Mae Collins’- were not. So, there is one other thing that Collins-Rudolph says would bring her comfort… and that’s finding her sister’s remains.
“When they exhumed her, they looked in there, and it wasn’t Addie, it was somebody that had dentures and nobody helped with that. If one of their kids got killed, a white kid, they would have tore the whole graveyard down but they didn’t care.”
Addie Mae Collin’s remains have still not been found.
Former Ku Klux Klansman Thomas Blanton Jr. will be up for parole again in 2021.